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Hotel Review: 24 Hours at The Robey Chicago

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Hotel Review: 24 Hours at The Robey Chicago

After two days staying and exploring the downtown Loop area of Chicago, we were ready to switch gears to a more neighborhood vibe. We came across The Robey on a whim, just during a quick search online, and were immediately drawn into its modern, minimal design with a touch of art deco details. We loved its location in the Wicker Park neighborhood and the fact that it was a part of the Design Hotels group of properties cinched the deal - we knew it would be the perfect way to spent our last 24 hours in the Windy City. 

Set in a gorgeous Art Deco building from 1929 and converted into a cozy boutique hotel that doesn't feel like it has 89 rooms, every detail from the moment you step through the doors contributed to the feeling that every detail was thoughtfully executed. 

 I always love the feeling of an actual key on a keychain vs. a key card.

I always love the feeling of an actual key on a keychain vs. a key card.

 The hotel is named after Robey Street – now  Damen Avenue.

The hotel is named after Robey Street – now  Damen Avenue.

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Due to budget, we ended up in one of the smaller room layouts, a little corner nook on the 3rd floor. And yet, we were impressed with the use of space, the carefully selected amenities, and the amount of window light flooding in. Everything in place was exactly what was needed - not too much, not too little...from the carefully constructed nightstand, to the frosted glass separating the bedroom and the bathroom.

We were traveling with our 1 year old son and they even had a crib they wheeled into the space - not an ugly yet functional crib that would have served its purpose just fine- but a beautiful white mini-crib that looked like it had its rightful place in the minimally designed room. I knew then that we'd definitely come back the next time we found ourselves in Chicago - that mix of child-friendly yet visually appealing details is so rare in most accommodations! 

We enjoyed taking our time settling in the room, reading the carefully curated publications displayed on the marble coffee table, and simply luxuriating in the afternoon light pouring through the window after a drive across town earlier that morning.  

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In search of a midday drink and nibble, we moseyed downstairs to check out the bar/cafe on the 2nd floor, which also happens to double as a popular workspace for locals in the know during the day. 

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The next morning before checkout, we headed downstairs and had breakfast at Cafe Robey, conveniently located in the lobby. Its always a nice bonus having a good breakfast option in the hotel that doesn't make you feel like you're missing out on a favorite neighborhood spot. By the time we settled into our food, the place was a nice, slightly buzzy mix of locals and visitors, giving it a feeling of it being a warm neighborhood favorite instead of just a place that locals avoid.

For how design-centric the hotel is, we loved that it was also family-friendly, basically satisfying our travel criteria all in one. It felt casual yet intentional, stylish yet not uptight. If you happen to be there without children, the rooftop bar and pool is highly recommended. The pool was still under construction during our visit (which happened during a wet spring anyway), but I can imagine many glorious summer days spent on the rooftop surrounded by panoramic views of the city along with the bar's handmade cocktails. 

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if you have the time for more Chicago adventures, read on for more design-centric sights in this iconic city.

The Robey Chicago | 2018 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 | (872) 315-3050

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5 Chicago Havens for the Design-Obsessed

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5 Chicago Havens for the Design-Obsessed

Sarah Bernhardt famously said, "I adore Chicago. It is the pulse of America" and we couldn't agree more. After a pretty brief first visit, we left wanting so much more...more of the eye catching skylines, more delectable dining, more rooftop-drinking and more coffee shop sipping. That said, if your heart swells at impeccable design and visual bounty, here are a handful of essential stops whether you are working in or passing through the Windy City. 


1. THE HOLLANDER

The Hollander: 2022 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 | @thehollandergh

A unique combination of hotel, hostel, and hip coffee shop, The Hollander is the picture-perfect hangout. Serving a limited selection of handpicked teas and coffee, the raw interior invites you to linger and read, work, and/or play any of the board games available for guests (hello Jenga!). With loads of window light pouring in from the street and plenty of stylish yet comfy seating, you won't want to leave but when you do, the surrounding Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood is full of chic restaurants and boutiques within walking distance. 

 Raw + chic interior

Raw + chic interior

 Love that hexagon tile

Love that hexagon tile


2. 3 ARTS CLUB CAFE

3 Arts Club Cafe: 1300 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60610 

Located in the famed 3 Arts Club Building, (formerly a home and club for Chicago women in the "three arts" of music, painting and drama) the 3 Arts Club Cafe spectacularly blends classic Chicago architecture with luxurious modern design. The original building was designed by legendary Chicago architects Holabird and Roche and retains its structure and opulent vibe. Beyond the Brendan Sodikoff-operated cafe, the building also houses a wine tasting room, music venue, and floors of Restoration Hardware eye candy. The food doesn't disappoint either: classic menu items are presented in their best possible form, no exaggeration here. The simple-looking charcuterie platter had the most buttery-tasting prosciutto and warm rustic bread. Cocktails were created with care and the gooey grilled cheese sandwich might be one of the best executions of a simple childhood staple. (Reservations recommended.)  

 Stunning surroundings at 3 Arts Cafe

Stunning surroundings at 3 Arts Cafe

 Charcuterie platter with champagne and peach bellini

Charcuterie platter with champagne and peach bellini


3. ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

Art Institute of Chicago: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 | @artinstitutechi

One of the largest and most renowned art museums in the United States, the Art Institute of Chicago sits in the heart of downtown at Grant Park. Founded in 1879, the museum with its new Renzo Piano-designed wing now encompasses a whopping 1 million square feet. With 11 different galleries ranging from Ancient and Byzantine to Architecture and Design, you can either make a day of it, exploring all that this history-rich museum has to offer, or simply focusing on a few galleries and then picnicking outdoors in Millennium Park.

 The natural light courtyard here is everything.

The natural light courtyard here is everything.

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4. LINCOLN CONSERVATORY

Lincoln Park Conservatory: 2391 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614 

So. Much. Green. If you happen to be in Chicago during a chilly spring or frigid winter, step into this wonderland of stunning flora and fauna. Although its free to visitors every day, a weekday visit is recommended if possible. Take your time and weave through one of the largest publicly owned conservatories under one roof. The main glass-enclosed greenhouse with its 65-foot ceilings is a stunning sight in itself. There are a few detours, such as the orchid room, succulent room, and a children's garden. Our absolute favorite was the Fern Room, a oasis of vines that simulates the lush environment dinosaurs thrived in during prehistoric Chicago.

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5. THE ROBEY CHICAGO

The Robey: 2018 West North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

When the day is winding down and you are ready to kick your feet up on some 400-thread count sheets and sip some artisanal gin in delightful brass-rimmed cocktail glasses, check into The Robey Chicago. As recent member of the Design Hotels family, you can be sure that every visual and textural detail at The Robey was carefully considered and executed. Despite the cozy size of our room, we were impressed by the layout and shrewd use of limited space. After check-in, head to the rooftop bar Up & Up, a hopping hangout popular with locals where you can take in a 180 degree view of Chicago's famous skyline.

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Hope you get a chance to stop by any of these spots while in town - would love to hear any thoughts and additional recommendations for our next visit!

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24 Hours in Solvang, California: Where To Stay, Eat, and Wine in This Charming Danish Town

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24 Hours in Solvang, California: Where To Stay, Eat, and Wine in This Charming Danish Town

Dusk: Arrival at The Landsby


Sometimes, a speedy jaunt out of town is exactly what your system needs. A brief absence to to recharge, to rejuvenate...One of the best parts about living in Los Angeles is the many possibilities for weekend trips reachable by car.

On a sunny summer Friday, we did just that. Threw a weekend bag into the car and hopped onto the 101. Having made several trips to Santa Ynez already, we didn't feel the need to pack the itinerary with an exhausting amount of to-dos. This particular trip was more about breathing in some fresh country air and returning to Los Angeles rested and renewed. 

After some agonizingly patchy traffic up the 101, we found solace at an awesome boutique hotel, The Landsby, right around dusk. It was a relief to step into the mid-century styled lobby, retrieve our room key and flop onto the luscious king-sized bed. 

 Dusk arrival in Solvang.

Dusk arrival in Solvang.

 First things first, a drink at the lobby bar at The Landsby.

First things first, a drink at the lobby bar at The Landsby.

 Clean and minimal design in the rooms at The Landsby.

Clean and minimal design in the rooms at The Landsby.

Dinner at Mad & Vin Restaurant was one of the best food decisions we made during the trip. We ordered the short rib skillet, the seafood hot pot, and sampled a few local pinots with our entrees. It was the perfect balance of California-inspired cuisine - homey and delicious, bursting with an array of balanced flavors that didn't feel pretentious or "trying too hard". 

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The following morning, breakfast was served in the main dining room, a striking light-filled space with a side patio. Continental style juice and muffins were available for the taking, and protein options could be made to order from the menu. It was a lively scene that ranged from families to new couples on their first LA getaway. 

 Continental breakfast options available as part of our stay.

Continental breakfast options available as part of our stay.

 The light-filled space transforms into a moody dining room in the evening.

The light-filled space transforms into a moody dining room in the evening.

 Love the Scandinavian details and the contrast of light and shadow in the late morning. 

Love the Scandinavian details and the contrast of light and shadow in the late morning. 

 The patio is just as well-thought out as the interior. 

The patio is just as well-thought out as the interior. 

Needless to say, we were not in a hurry to leave. After breakfast, we lingered in the lobby that felt more like a well-designed (yet cozy) living room. We admired all of the thoughtful design accents, from the knickknacks on the wall shelving, the hanging succulents, to the Scandinavian bird sculptures by the window. 

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Alas, it was then time to check out so we brought ourselves upstairs to pack up and venture into downtown Solvang. 

The Landsby: 1576 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463 | @thelandsby


10am-Noon: Stroll around downtown Solvang

Founded in 1911, Solvang means "sunny field", and while it is no longer much of a 'field', the sunny description remains. Originally established as a town for Danish immigrants, its unique history, authentic architecture, and prime location (not to mention gorgeous weather) in the fertile Santa Ynez Valley has turned it into an enticing destination for eating, wine tasting, and shopping. 

 The quaint streets of downtown Solvang, California.

The quaint streets of downtown Solvang, California.

Our first stop was Copenhagen House, a haven of Scandinavian-designed home goods, beauty products, and accessories. It is located on Copenhagen Drive, which was originally Solvang's Main Street back in the early 1900s when Danish settlers began establishing businesses in this little town away from home. 

With all of the Danish sweets to partake in around town, it can get a bit overwhelming. The family-owned Mortensen's Danish Bakery is a must-stop for traditional pastries. Optional is the Old Danish Fudge Kitchen with heaps of fudge sold by the pound alongside of cotton candy and caramel apples. However, the Aebleskiver, translated as "pancake balls" is not to be missed. It is popular as a Christmas dessert in Denmark but eaten year round in California. Usually a line forms pretty quickly in front of this small window at Solvang Restaurant. 

After sufficiently walking off the sweets and exploring the cobblestone corridors, make your way to a vineyard to lull away the rest of the afternoon away before heading back to Los Angeles

 Get in line early for this in-demand Danish delicacy.

Get in line early for this in-demand Danish delicacy.

 The famous aebleskiver from Solvang Restaurant, topped with a generous heaping of powdered sugar.

The famous aebleskiver from Solvang Restaurant, topped with a generous heaping of powdered sugar.

 One of the signature Solvang landmarks. 

One of the signature Solvang landmarks. 

 Indulge your sweet tooth at Mortensen's Danish Bakery.

Indulge your sweet tooth at Mortensen's Danish Bakery.

Solvang Restaurant: 1672 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463

Mortensen's Danish Bakery: 1588 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 9346

Old Danish Fudge Kitchen: 441 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463

Copenhagen House: 1660 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463


1pm - dusk: Rusack Vineyards

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It wouldn't quite be fair to say we saved the best for last, but after a restful night at The Landsby and a languid stroll through downtown Solvang, it doesn't get any better than a crisp bottle of sauvignon blanc enjoyed in the open air at Rusack Vineyards. With ample patio seating as well as space to sprawl on the lawn, the warm and friendly atmosphere is perfect for families, groups, or couples. We brought our go-to picnic blanket and spread our charcuterie out on the lawn, sipping our wine with views of the vineyard it came from right in front of us. 

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It was the perfect end to a brief yet relaxing trip before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. 

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Rusack Vineyards: 1819 Ballard Canyon Rd, Solvang, CA 93463 | @rusackvineyards

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Malihom: A Respite Tucked Away In Balik Pulau

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Malihom: A Respite Tucked Away In Balik Pulau

Away from the resort row in Batu Ferringhi and southeast of the UNESCO hub of Georgetown, a lesser developed area of Penang known as Balik Pulau is home to Malihom. A boutique eco-lodge high up in the jungle with a narrow one lane road leading to it's entrance (there is a simple flashing light system in place to know whether a car is coming down and whether you're clear to ascend), the curvy journey there makes the views on arrival all the sweeter. 

We arrived after a long drive from Kuala Lumpur and were greeted with an icy lemon ginger beverage while checking in. Billed as "your private estate in Penang" on their website, it did feel like we had arrived at the home of a [very fortuitous] friend. Malihom is one of those secluded destinations where you pretty much park yourself there during the duration of your stay and soak in the serenity away from bustling city life. 

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There are 8 separate bungalows at Malihom, all inspired by traditional Thai rice barn designs that sit on stilts off the ground. Paying homage to their origins, they are all named in Thai. Ours was "Khanun", aka jackfruit. Others include "Dhamma", the state of nature, and "Sankhara": progress. 

At Malihom, which means 'village of the fragrant rice', the lower level of the barns are designed with hammocks and patio seating for repose in the fresh mountain air. Having been back to Penang many times since my childhood there, I was pleasantly struck by how much less humidity was present in the high altitude than at sea level.

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After an incredibly windy night, we woke up to an epic sunrise, one of those with every color strewn together in abstract percussion. Without saying, I loved all the sun flare I was able to capture streaming over the balcony of our barn. We lazed around a bit, marveling at the natural beauty of our surroundings before meandering down to breakfast for a meal of tea, fresh papaya, toast, and eggs. 

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Our power lies in our small daily choices, one after another, to create eternal ripples of a life well lived.
— M. Marti
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Ah, the hammock. The icon of leisure. Our favorite spot in our barn. Napping in the afternoon breeze to the gentle swing of the hammock was one of the highlights of our short stay, not including a visit to the infinity pool with it's expansive views.

Below is a short video of the breezy morning we woke up to, set to an instrumental version of Bon Iver's Perth. 

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After a full day of relaxing family time (and lots of picture taking), we gazed out our balcony at the view below before changing and heading back down for another freshly prepared meal. No complaints here.

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Stay

Malihom Kiri N/T 168, Bukit Penara, Mukim 6, 11000 Balik Pulau, Penang, Malaysia

Online reservations recommended; email malihom.reservation@gmail.com

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